The Best Car Upholstery Cleaners, Tested

We tested 10 carpet, fabric, and upholstery cleaners to find out which was the best for your car’s interior surfaces. Here’s what we found.
By Maxwell B. Mortimer — Mar 8, 2022

Meguiar's G9719 Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner product photoWe’ve all been there. One minute your commute is going smoothly, then in the blink of an eye, some yahoo cuts you off. You react quickly, saving both yourself and the car, but there is one casualty: your coffee. As you swerve to avoid the ne’er-do-well, the cup flies from your hand, causing it to careen into your dashboard, dump its contents, and coat your interior with the latest shade of pumpkin spice.

NOTE from Detailing Specialist at Sunset North Car Wash: We’re big fans of products by Meguiar’s in general and nice to see the Care & Driver experts picked their Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner as “Most Reliable!”

The Best Car Upholstery Cleaners

Best Overall

Chemical Guys Nonsense Invinsible Super Cleaner

Read More $10 AT AMAZON

Most Reliable

Meguiar’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner

Read More $19 AT AMAZON

Best All-In-One

CarGuys Premium Super Cleaner

Read More $17 AT AMAZON

Most Versatile

Mothers Carpet & Upholstery All Fabric Cleaner

Read More $7 AT AMAZON

Best for Household Use

Tuff Stuff Multi-Purpose Foam Cleaner

Read More $17 AT AMAZON

How We Chose the Upholstery Cleaners in This Guide

To aid in the task of interior decontamination, we have assembled a guide to 10 of the best car upholstery cleaners. We tested them on stained upholstery and found that each offers the everyday car owner the ability to clean with the speed and efficiency of a professional detail shop. To be clear, the products on this list are intended to clean cloth and vinyl upholstery; a few here will also clean leather.

Upholstery Cleaning Tips & Tricks:

You’ll want to start cleaning your car’s interior with a good vacuuming. A dry soft brush before vacuuming will go a long way toward loosening

stuck-on and ground-in debris. Use the attachments that came with your
car vacuum cleaner to get deep in the creases and crevices of the seats.

Expose as much of your seats as possible by folding them forward, laying them ball the way back, and slide them back and forward as far as they will

go. Front and back. You never know what might shake loose and besides, why do a half-assed job? Do it right the first time.

Treat stains with a special cleaner before cleaning your upholstery, taking care to test any cleaner in an inconspicuous spot first, for colorfastness.

If cleaning cloth seats, use any liquids sparingly. You don’t want to soak the foam padding underneath, which could lead to mold and mildew.

While some of the products on this list claim to clean leather as well as fabric and vinyl, we recommend using a specialized
leather cleaner and

conditioner in your car.

Other Considerations:

• Before using any new cleaning product, or trying a familiar one on a new surface, always check for colorfastness. This means testing the product in an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t cause the dyes in the fabric to bleed or run. It says this in the directions, but we’re going to take a wild guess that you have been known to ignore those, which brings us to:

• All cleaners are different, and it’s good practice to read the directions before you start in order to guarantee optimal results. Pay close attention to specific techniques and methods.

• If simply applying product and wiping it away isn’t working, consider purchasing a detail brush. The detail brush helps to agitate the cleaner, working up a lather and offering deeper penetration into the target area.